Three missions and the challenge of generating oxygen: the conquest of Mars is underway

In February, three new exploration missions will reach Mars, with which the knowledge of the so-called red planet will be further advanced with a view to the arrival of people to the star, highlighted Rafael Navarro González, of the Institute of Nuclear Sciences (ICN) and NASA contributor.

“At this moment three rockets are traveling to Mars and once they arrive they will be operating Curiosity, Perseverance and the two additional probes (Hope from the United Arab Emirates and Tianwen-1 from China); and two years later ExoMars will ship (from the European Space Agency), so there is going to be a lot of exploration on Mars in the next few years, “the researcher explained.

On February 18 it will arrive at the Jezero crater, located 18 degrees north near the equator on the red planet, which was formed by the impact of an asteroid four billion years ago and could have clues to the existence of past life on the neighboring planet, as it housed a lake.

Photo: UNAM Global TV

“The crater where Curiosity (Gale) is has 3.5 billion years, the difference is 500 million years, which is very important. The oldest rocks on Earth with evidence of liquid water are found in Greenland and are 3.8 billion years old.”, Similar to that of the Jezero crater, specified the collaborator of the ExoMars mission with the European Space Agency.

In those materials, he detailed, there is isotopic evidence that life arose on Earth, although the most concrete evidence of this fact is 3.5 billion years old. Therefore, the Jezero crater is important because it looks more like the environment when life on our planet arose and it will be important to compare these data obtained with those generated so far by Curiosity.

Photo: UNAM Global TV

Photo: UNAM Global TV

“Curiosity is not a vehicle designed to search for evidence of life, while Perseverance carries microscopes and will apply spectroscopic techniques to find evidence of microfossils or conglomerates of organisms, which would be interesting to collect and bring them to Earth ”, emphasized Navarro González.

On the other hand, almost at the same time as Perseverance, the Chinese mission Tianwen-1 approaches Mars with the objective of orbiting, landing and exploring the surface of the astro.

Additionally, the Amal (Hope) mission driven by the United Arab Emirates aboard a Japanese rocket is approaching the arrival to the neighboring planet, and it is expected that it will develop a complete climate mapping over a Martian year (two Earth years). .

Photo: UNAM Global TV

Photo: UNAM Global TV

Create the conditions

Since the arrival de Curiosity, from NASA, parameters are reviewed – such as radiation levels in the area – that allow man to live for a period of two years on the red planet (due to the orbit and Martian year).

“The results we have are that they are very high doses that exceed those allowed by NASA for a mission in space. Which means that astronauts on Mars should wear special suits that allow them to resist high levels of radiation “commented the university researcher.

Photo: UNAM Global TV

Photo: UNAM Global TV

Additionally, Perseverance is expected to collect air samples and try to decompose CO2 (carbon dioxide) to generate oxygen. ExoMars will do the same with the air in the atmosphere to trap water vapor from it, so that it can be used for future missions.

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